Development and Transit in Halifax

I seem to pause now and then when it comes to posting in my blog but this week I had the urge to talk about Halifax. There is a great deal of new development happening across the city, much of it in the urban centre. This is a fantastic change since most of the development in years past has happened in the suburban areas, creating too much sprawl for a city this size and enforcing car dependency.

Halifax is a lovely small city and the focus on building an urban centre where people can live, work and play is very much needed. But this brings up lots of new questions and challenges on how to really make the city livable. For years new residential and office towers were built off the peninsula, in new neighborhoods that didn’t have good transit access and were accompanied by wide roads and strip malls. I am not going to get into the urban/suburban debate about what is aesthetically pleasing but these developments have come at a cost. New roads to maintain and no link to the core of the city except highways and traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I understand everyone doesn’t want to live downtown but it makes no sense to create dense apartment buildings in a suburban area with poor transportation links and zero walk ability.

The video below shows how Vancouver has created a city where transportation is not focused on cars but on the needs of people. With a similar geography Halifax could take some of these ideas to build an even greater city. The city can grow with a focus on building along transportation lines and link the city together. We have started building bike lanes and talked the talk but an investment needs to be made in the future of the city. A real strategy of separated bike lanes, bus only lanes and streets, increased bus frequency and real alternatives to car dependency. We need affordable and frequent transportation options. Public transit should be quicker then car travel during rush hour, leaving cars behind and changing the mindset of commuters.

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